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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Diane English, May 19, 2006. Interview U-0183. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

English's objection to urban revitalization efforts in Belmont

English likens the urban revitalization of her Belmont neighborhood to the urban renewal efforts in the 1960s. She fears that neighborhood history will be lost with gentrification. English argues that the city failed to keep local residents informed of changes and divided the community's residents between the public housing occupants and the larger Belmont neighborhood.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Diane English, May 19, 2006. Interview U-0183. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DIANE ENGLISH:
Yeah. They moved everybody out that way. That's when I went out to Pine Valley. Then all of a sudden they let us come back into the city. Now they're telling us, "Oh we want these houses." It's like every neighborhood surrounding the downtown area has been either targeted or revitalizing. What do they call it? Gentrification. It's exactly what it is. Gentrification. We know it. We been knowing it for years. It hasn't been that obvious. Now, it's very obvious.
SARAH THUESEN:
What do you fear is going to be lost if the gentrification process continues here in Belmont?
DIANE ENGLISH:
The neighborhood itself, the history of the neighborhood. The houses because everything is going to condominiums. I don't think too many people care about the homes anymore. Everybody wants to be where they don't have to do anything, just pay your rent, pay your bills. Let somebody else do the work for you. I think a lot of people are lazy. They don't want flowers. They don't want to have a space of their own. Then you have a lot of single people that live by themselves. Maybe they are afraid to live in a house. I don't know. I feel like eventually they will lose—. A lot of these homes will be destroyed simply because they want condos. They have the funds, the means to do that. I feel like they are very sneaky with it. We went through a year or two years to get a Belmont plan in place. Now you virtually don't hear anything about it. It's always the Hope VI Plan and like what happened to the Belmont plan? Everything was altered.
SARAH THUESEN:
When you refer to the Belmont plan are you referring to that 2003 report that came out? The Belmont Revitalization plan the city had for the neighborhood?
DIANE ENGLISH:
Yes. May 12, 2003.
SARAH THUESEN:
You were a part of that.
DIANE ENGLISH:
Yeah, we were the—what do they call it—the stake holders. The six stake holders that never missed a meeting for almost two years to get the plan together as they said. Then all of a sudden there was a lot of changes that we weren't aware of. It took us about a year to get the new, original books. The new—what do they call them—books. We had the original plan book. Then they edit it, some of the material. We never got that one. I think we got that one last year, the year before, last year.
SARAH THUESEN:
You felt like the city was making changes the residents didn't want.
DIANE ENGLISH:
They made changes that we weren't aware of. Their excuse for that was we had to do it and we had to do it in X amount of time. We didn't have time to come back to you all.
SARAH THUESEN:
Give me an example of a change that you weren't in favor of.
DIANE ENGLISH:
The Hope VI. Everything about the Hope VI was—. In fact we were doing the Belmont plan when they were trying to do a Hope VI plan at that particular time. It was like it was a split thing. Charlotte Housing Authority was working on the Piedmont Court people. We used to go there and try to get them into the neighborhood to be a part of the neighborhood meetings. They would always say the Housing Authority is starting us up a community organization. The Housing Authority it doing this for us and blah, blah, blah. IT was like they would be going to the Hope VI. We would be going to the Belmont plant. This was going on simultaneously at the same time.